Monday, October 8, 2018

How to not buy makeup (from Auxiliary Beauty)

Wow, it's been longer than I thought since I posted here. A lot has happened--moving, traveling, starting a new job, multiple bureaucratic nightmares (by the way, "bureaucratic" is on my list of words I can never, ever spell)--leaving no time for blogging. I hope to be back in control of my time soon. In the meantime, read this post about how to avoid buying more shit you don't need even when you are mightily tempted because everything is shit, by the ever-brilliant Auxiliary Beauty.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Last Minute Sunscreen Review: La Roche-Posay Anthelios Ultra-Fluid Lotion SPF 60 Sunscreen (with Mexoryl)

Review of La Roche-Posay Anthelios Ultra-Fluid Lotion SPF 60 Sunscreen (with Mexoryl)

This review is last minute in that the end of summer is approaching (but it's not here yet! stop saying that!), and that my bottle is almost empty, so I figured I'd better write this post before I forgot what I thought of this sunscreen.

Note that I'm reviewing the Canadian version here, which contains the very effective filter Mexoryl (patented by L'Oréal), which is not FDA-approved in the US for some reason. It's been used safely in Canada and Europe (and elsewhere) since the 90s, so I'm not sure what the problem is here. It's generally agreed to be one of the most effective sunscreen filters on the market. (I swear I read a Consumer Reports article last year that said this was the most effective sunscreen they tested, and that's why I bought it, but I cannot find the link anywhere. Weird.) I bought my bottle at Superstore in Canada, but I think you can get it from just about any drugstore there. If you're in the U.S., you can buy it from eBay and have it shipped from Canada or Europe.It might also be available online elsewhere--does anyone know? (There is a product sold in in the US that looks the same as this, but i doesn't contain Mexoryl. I haven't tried it.)

I'm going to try to write this post in a simple pros and cons format, to reduce wordiness. Let's see how successful I am at being brief today.


  • It really is very, very effective at protecting my skin from the sun. The southern California sun is a whole other thing, and everyone sits outside at lunch time where I work, so it's been put to the test. I also wore it for 4+ hours on a boat in direct sunlight and didn't burn or even tan. Over the past few month, my face has darkened by maybe half a shade, but to be honest that could have happened on days when I was lazy and didn't use this sunscreen. 
  • It only has a faint sunscreen scent that I can't smell for long after I apply it.
  • It's thin and easy to spread on the skin.
  • My makeup applies just fine over it (though I am not generally someone who wears a full face of opaque foundation).
  • The packaging is appropriate for the product, and it contains a little bead to help mix it up. (I'm more likely to shake it just because that rattling bead is in there than I would without it, for some reason!)

Review of La Roche-Posay Anthelios Ultra-Fluid Lotion SPF 60 Sunscreen (with Mexoryl)

  • It's a bit greasy. It definitely does not have a matte finish, and it has the potential to rub into my eyes and burn, if I'm not careful.
  • It doesn't play well with all of my skincare products. If I try to layer over something with silicone, like Paula's Choice Moisture Gel, it pills like fucking crazy. Waiting longer between layers doesn't seem to help. So long as I avoid silicones, and I'm careful not to rub my face too much, it's ok. 
  • It stings the sensitive skin around my eyes a bit for about half an hour after I apply it. This sensation is pretty common for me with "chemical" (i.e. organic) sunscreens. The packaging says "for sensitive skin," but if you usually have a bad reaction to chemical sunscreens or get a burning sensation that is a dealbreaker for you, I'm guessing you aren't going to like this product.
  • The bottle is pretty small. I mean, it's clearly labeled, and if you buy it in a store, you know what you're getting, but the first time I saw it in person, I was surprised., especially since it costs around $20. The bottle lasts longer than you might expect, at least.
Because the pros and cons of Anthelios are pretty evenly balanced for me, I tend to only use this sunscreen when I know that I will be spending a significant portion of the day in the sun (which is actually most work days, lately). If I'm not, I'll opt for something a bit less powerful, but easier to wear, like Kinesys (reviewed here). If I were moving back to the midwest or Canada, where the sun is not as intense, I'm not sure if I would purchase this sunscreen again or if I would just stick with something easier. Instead, I'm going to be moving back to south Texas, where the sun, like everything else there, is trying to kill me--but then maybe I'll just become an indoor cat.

I'd recommend this sunscreen if getting the best protection is your priority, but if any of the things on my cons list are going to make you avoid using it, you might as well get another sunscreen that's less potent but comfortable enough to apply every day.

Have you ever bought a foreign sunscreen, or are you happy with what's available at home?

Thursday, August 2, 2018


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I'm finishing up my fellowship (i.e. job) this month with nothing lined up for the fall. Shit. What that means for you is that while posts may be few and far between here for August, they will probably ramp up in frequency come September. In the meantime I am still procrastinating on Instagram, of course, and a reminder: you don't need the app/an account to procrastinate on there too. You can view IG accounts in a web browser. I'm sorry.

I figured I'd post a few deals I've seen pop up lately, while I'm still researching my next more substantive post.

Walmart has a beauty box right now for $5 with free shipping. The samples aren't the most exciting I've seen, but they are apparently customized for you based on a survey.  (There's also a men's box for $7. Whadyaknow, something for men that's more expensive than the lady version!)

Tarte is offering 25% off, with code BESTIES, and you get an extra 10% off if you sign up for their loyalty program (free). That makes some of the lip gloss and eyeshadow less than $6.

Nordstrom Rack has marked-down MAC, Urban Decay, Too Faced, Smashbox, Bobbi Brown, bareMinerals, Nars, Paula's Choice Caudalie, etc. I'm extremely tempted to buy a backup of Urban Decay Rocksteady for $9, but I really shouldn't be buying anything at all, much less backups, in preparation for the upcoming move and under-employment. You buy it instead! It's the best red lipstick, I swear.

Also, did you know that if you sign up for Madewell's loyalty program (also free), they send you a birthday gift? I just got mine, and it's a code for $25 a $26+ purchase, which is pretty great. Cheap jewelry, here I come.

Don't forget to use Ebates for a few more percent off most things.

Any other deals I should know about but absolutely not buy anything from right now?

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Urban Decay Backtalk Vice Lipstick Comparisons (plus a quick review of NYX Slip Tease Full Color Lip Oil in Lowkey)

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Urban Decay Backtalk Vice Lipstick and NYX Slip Tease Full Color Lip Oil in Lowkey

Urban Decay's Vice Lipstick in Backtalk, in their Comfort Matte finish, is one of the most popular shades in that huge line. They even made a whole eye and face palette based on it. It's in that dusty pink/mauve/MLBB (my-lips-but-better) family, which is the largest category of lip products in my hoard. Despite its popularity and my personal preference for this type of shade, there's something about Backtalk that's just a little off when I wear it. It's not that it looks bad, exactly, but it also doesn't make my face look better than it did without any lipstick.

I decided to swatch all my lipsticks that are even remotely similar to see if I can pick out any patterns and discern why Backtalk doesn't work for me. And since I was doing that, I figured I might as well post them here for you, in case you want to find/avoid dupes--or in case you can help me answer my question.

Here are the swatches, in no particular order. The first swatch in every photo is always Urban Decay Backtalk.

Swatches of Urban Decay Backtalk, Bite Beauty Pepper, Bite Beauty Matte Crème Lip Crayon in Glacé, BareMinerals GEN NUDE Liquid Lipstick in Swag,  Kat Von D Everlasting Liquid Lipstick in Lovesick, Make Up For Ever Artist Rouge Lipstick in Rosewood, Bite Beauty Amuse Bouche Lipstick in Fig

1. Urban Decay Backtalk

2. Bite Beauty Pepper (Luminous Creme formula)

3. Bite Beauty Matte Crème Lip Crayon in Glacé

4. BareMinerals GEN NUDE Liquid Lipstick in Swag

5. Kat Von D Everlasting Liquid Lipstick in Lovesick

6. Make Up For Ever Artist Rouge Lipstick in Rosewood

7. Bite Beauty Amuse Bouche Lipstick in Fig

So of the lipsticks in this selection, besides Backtalk, the only two I don't really like on myself are the KVD Lovesick and Bite Fig. Lovesick is a little cooler, with more pink/purple, than Backtalk, and Fig is much warmer and peachier. (Fortunately Lovesick is also a sample, because since it does that dried-up butthole thing to my lips, I wouldn't want to be stuck with a whole tube. Also, I don't buy Kat Von D products.) I'm not sure I'm seeing a pattern here yet.

Swatches of Urban Decay Backtalk, Bite Beauty Amuse Bouche Lipstick in Rhubarb, Maybelline Creamy Matte Lipstick in Touch of Spice, NYX Slip Tease Full Color Lip Oil in Lowkey, Colourpop Lux Lipstick in Angel City, Nars Satin Lip Pencil in Rikugien, Wet N Wild Megalast Lipstick in Rose-bud

1. Urban Decay Backtalk (It's interesting how Backtalk will look different depending on what other swatches you put it next to. The lighting is the same!)

2. Bite Beauty Amuse Bouche Lipstick in Rhubarb

3. Maybelline Creamy Matte Lipstick in Touch of Spice (reviewed here)

4. NYX Slip Tease Full Color Lip Oil in Lowkey (which is very, very similar to Touch of Spice--more on this lipstick below!)

5. Colourpop Lux Lipstick in Angel City

6. Nars Satin Lip Pencil in Rikugien

7. Wet N Wild Megalast Lipstick in Rose-bud

Everything here is much warmer than Backtalk, and it all works well for me, so maybe that's something. Rhubarb is slightly blah on me, but I'm guessing it would look great on people who like Revlon Sultry, which is similar to Maybelline Touch of Spice but slightly less flattering on me (review/comparison here).

Side note: has anyone ever come across a dupe for Wet N Wild Rose-bud? I love the color, but the Megalast formula always dries out my lips.

Swatches of Urban Decay Backtalk, L'Oréal Colour Riche La Lacque Lip Pen in Choco-lacque, Urban Decay Revolution Lipstick in Rapture, Urban Decay Sheer Revolution Lipstick in Sheer Rapture, Revlon Balm Stain in Honey, Tom Ford Lip Color Matte in Pussycat

1. Urban Decay Backtalk 

2. L'Oréal Colour Riche La Lacque Lip Pen in Choco-lacque (reviewed here)

3. Urban Decay Revolution Lipstick in Rapture (discontinued, but available in Vice format)

4. Urban Decay Sheer Revolution Lipstick in Sheer Rapture (discontinued)

5. Revlon Balm Stain in Honey (reviewed here)

6. Tom Ford Lip Color Matte in Pussycat

Pussycat looks closest to Backtalk here, and it's also the one I like least on my face, though slightly better than Backtalk. These two lipsticks are both pretty muted (i.e. they have grey added), so that could be a clue. Rapture looks muted when you consider it alone, but next to Backtalk, it's a bit more saturated.

Swatches of Urban Decay Backtalk, Tarte Tarteist Creamy Matte Lip Paint in Birthday Suit, LA Girl Matte Lipstick in Snuggle, Burt's Bees Lip Crayon in Sedona Sands, Bite Beauty Amuse Bouche Lipstick in Thistle

1. Urban Decay Backtalk 

2. Tarte Tarteist Creamy Matte Lip Paint in Birthday Suit (i.e. last year's Sephora birthday gift)

3. LA Girl Matte Lipstick in Snuggle (reviewed here)

4. Burt's Bees Lip Crayon in Sedona Sands

5. Bite Beauty Amuse Bouche Lipstick in Thistle

None of the above is particularly similar to Backtalk, so the fact that most of them work for me isn't especially informative. The exception is Birthday Suit, which is an unflattering beige--I think it's the yellow undertones that set it apart from the superficially similar Snuggle. Come to think of it, though, Thistle is both very muted and pretty cool, and I like it a lot on me. Maybe that's because it's more of a statement corpse-lip, rather than just looking accidentally blah. (I'm wearing it in this Instagram pic, though the lighting isn't great.)

You probably want to see what Backtalk actually looks like on me at this point. (Apologies for the grainy photo.)

Like I said, it's not awful, but a great lipstick will light up your face, and a good lipstick will at least be better than nothing.

I'm not sure what I've learned through this process. I need my MLBB lipsticks to be muted, but not too muted, and more brown than grey, maybe. Or more brown than pink? Thoughts? I have definitely learned that I have way too many similar lipsticks (ok, I already knew that), and that weirdly enough I have never reviewed most of these. Any you'd like to know more about?

I'll tell you more right now about one of them. I recently used Ulta points to pick up a lipstick from one of NYX's 700 or so liquid lipstick lines, a newer one called Slip Tease Full Color Lip Oil. It's full color, sure, but having oil in the name is a bit of a red herring. It's not like YSL Tint-In-Oil or most other products called lip oils. It's less drying than most matte liquid lipsticks, sure, but there's nothing that looks or feels oily about it. (There are a few oils halfway down the ingredients list, but a lot of other things come before them.)

Here is Lowkey on my face:

More flattering, wouldn't you agree, than Backtalk? The rest of my makeup is the same, as is the lighting. Here's a lip swatch:

When you see it all alone, it looks like a rosy pink, but in the swatches above (second set), you can see that it definitely has some brown in it when compared to other lipsticks in the same family. The formula is really lovely. It's slightly moussey and thick enough that you can easily and neatly apply it using just the doe foot (not as thick as the Tarte liquid lipstick, though). It's opaque in one coat, but not so pigmented that it risks getting really messy. The finish is demi-matte. It dries down a bit but not completely, so it retains slip and moisture and feels pretty much like a bullet lipstick--yet it doesn't transfer easily. Wear time is about the same as a decent bullet, so you'll probably have to reapply after a meal. Best of all, it doesn't dry my lips out.

This is one of the nicest lipsticks I've tried recently, and probably the nicest liquid lipstick I've ever used. I'd recommend giving it a try if you see a color you like. That's my one complaint: while I love Lowkey (way to be hip to the new slang, kids), none of the other colors really interests me. There's variety, but something about the selection bores me. Bang Bang and Entice might be ok? I think a terracotta orange would be really great in this formula.

I kind of ordered Lowkey blind (you can never trust Ulta's photos for color accuracy), but it ended up working great. It would be nice if I could work out some kind of rules to predict which lipsticks will work best on me. Do you know what works for you when you see it, or do you have to try everything on like I do?

Thursday, July 5, 2018

For Dry Eyes Only: Review of IT Cosmetics Bye Bye Under Eye Full Coverage Anti-Aging Waterproof Concealer

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Review of IT Cosmetics Bye Bye Under Eye Full Coverage Anti-Aging Waterproof Concealer

I have a wandering eye when it comes to makeup, and it usually doesn't do me much good. I have a totally reliable, nearly perfect under-eye concealer in the form of Sephora Gel Serum Concealer (reviewed here), and yet . . .

It Cosmetics Bye Bye Under Eye [insert long name here] is one of those concealers that comes up whenever people ask for recommendations, alongside things like Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer. So I was tempted. I should have known better, since it claims to be waterproof. Things can usually be waterproof or oil-proof, but not both (which makes perfect sense). I do have pretty watery eyes, so a waterproof concealer isn't a bad idea in theory, but my skin also tends to get oilier and oilier as the day goes on. It's almost always more important for my makeup to be able to withstand my oily skin than to resist water.  This concealer just doesn't hold up for me, unfortunately.

It has some great qualities that I'm sure contribute to its popularity. For one thing, it's incredibly pigmented, so that you only need a tiny bit of the thick product to cover the entire under-eye area. For me, this is all it takes for one eye:

Review of IT Cosmetics Bye Bye Under Eye Full Coverage Anti-Aging Waterproof Concealer

It also blends easily and covers well enough, initially. The packaging, a simple squeeze tube with a very narrow dispenser is great--it will limit the amount of air and bacteria that can get in, but also makes it easy to squeeze out the last few specks. Bye Bye Under Eye only comes in six shades. I chose the lightest, called Light (Very Fair). In makeup lingo, "light" and "very fair" are usually two different things, but sure. Here is a swatch compared to a bunch of other concealers to help you decode that label:

Swatches of IT Cosmetics Bye Bye Undereye in Light; Sephora Gel Serum Concealer in Fondant; Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer in Chantilly; Kevyn Aucoin Sensual Skin Enhancer in Sx02; Urban Decay 24/7 Concealer Pencil in CIA; Hard Candy Glamoflauge Concealer in Ultra Light.

From left to right: (1) IT Cosmetics Bye Bye Undereye in Light; (2) Sephora Gel Serum Concealer in Fondant; (3) Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer in Chantilly; (4) Kevyn Aucoin Sensual Skin Enhancer in Sx02; (5) Urban Decay 24/7 Concealer Pencil in CIA (discontinued); and (6) Hard Candy Glamoflauge Concealer in Ultra Light.

It Cosmetics Light is closest to Nars Chantilly. I found it to be a good match for my skin tone, fortunately, since the shade options were limited. It's probably a closer match than Sephora Fondant, in fact, though the extra warmth of Fondant means it actually does a better job of canceling out my dark circles. The consistency and pigmentation of Bye Bye Undereye is most similar to the Kevyn Aucoin Sensual Skin Enhancer, but the IT doesn't have that strong floral/powdery fragrance. (By the way, Hard Candy Ultra Light is the lightest concealer I have ever found, so if you have trouble finding something pale enough for you, it's worth a shot.)

On the downside, I found that Bye Bye Under Eye creased really badly on me and highlighted fine lines and flakiness that I didn't even know were there. I tried various application methods with no improvement. The photo below was taken immediately after application, patted on with my finger over well-moisturized but not primed skin. I'm not wearing any other makeup besides eyebrow pencil. (I forgot to take a before photo, but you can see the bare state of my dark circles here or here.)

Review of IT Cosmetics Bye Bye Under Eye Full Coverage Anti-Aging Waterproof Concealer

The coverage is good, but the texture isn't ideal, and it's creased a whole lot. Not a huge deal, maybe, because most concealers crease right after I apply them, and I can usually blend a little more after a few minutes to soften the creasing.

Here it is with the rest of my makeup applied, after a little more light blending with a sponge, and setting with No.7 loose powder (reviewed here).

The texture is worse, and instead of the creases smoothing out, the concealer has basically just lifted out of them. It has also already faded quite a bit just in the amount of time it took me to apply the rest of my makeup. Sigh. (As I said, I tried a few different application/blending/setting methods with the same results.)

Besides the lack of a smooth surface, the other big problem, which I mentioned above, is that the oil in my skin just devours this stuff. By the end of the day, there's very little left, except what was caught by those lines and flakes. Lovely.

Review of IT Cosmetics Bye Bye Under Eye Full Coverage Anti-Aging Waterproof Concealer

The photo above was taken after about eight hours on not a particularly hot or sweaty day. My skin is what you might euphemistically describe as dewy. Even so, my mascara (Tarte Lights, Camera, Lashes) and my eyebrow pencil (Essence Eyebrow Designer Pencil) have stuck around just fine. My dark circles are on major display, though.

To be fair, this is what happens to most concealers on my face. One of the things that impressed me so much about the Sephora Gel Serum (please never discontinue it, please, please, please) was that it was still there at the end of the day. So this problem doesn't necessarily make this concealer worse than all other concealers, just worst than my fave.

Clearly a lot of people out there like this stuff. My guess is that those people do not have oily skin. If you have drier skin and teary eyes, maybe this is great. (Though I would still be concerned that it would highlight flaky skin, to be honest.) But if your skin type is similar to mine, I certainly wouldn't recommend this product. I've already bought another tube of my trusty Sephora concealer, which costs $14 versus IT Cosmetics' $24--though note that the IT tube contains twice as much product, so if you like it and can get through it all before it starts to dry up, it's actually a better value.

If this concealer is your holy grail, I think it would be really helpful for people reading this review if you would comment and let me know what type of skin you have and what you look for in a concealer.

Anyway, lesson learned.


Probably not.
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